If you need to monitor your blood pressure at home because your doctor wants a more clear record of your highs and lows, you should know a few things about how to accurately measure with a home device. When you measure at home, it can be different than what the nurse does at your doctor’s office. And that can lead to confusion if you don’t know what to do.
You probably have purchased a home monitor for your blood pressure. Something like the Omron BP785 10 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, Black/white available on Amazon. You want a machine with an upper arm cuff and one that is easy to put on.
When you prepare to measure your blood pressure, make sure you are in a quiet place and not talking. Believe it or not, that increases your blood pressure. So don’t talk to anyone while you are measuring your blood pressure. Remove tight clothing from your upper arm so as to not further constrict the area. And don’t drink, eat, exercise or smoke within 30 minutes before you take the measurement. All of those affect your blood pressure.
Sit in a chair, don’t stand. Sit upright and let your arm rest comfortably on the table with your feet on the floor. You want to have the cuff at the same level as your heart and your palm facing up. This allows the measurement to be the most accurate.
Before you press the start button, take a few breaths and relax. Then, once you press the button, continue to be calm and quiet. Once the machine is done, you can look at the measurement.
Looking at the monitor, you will usually see 3 lines of information. SYS means systolic blood pressure, and that should be below 130 mmHg. That is the pressure when your heart is contracting and pushing blood through the arteries. It is the pressure about 1/3 of the time. DIA means diastolic blood pressure and it should be below 90 mmHg. When your heart is relaxed and between beats, this is the pressure that is placed on your arteries. That is the pressure about 2/3 of the time. The final number is usually Pulse – that is the number of beats per minute in your body. While there are no cut and dried rules about how high or low this number is, it is usually better if it is lower. Talk to your doctor about what your number should be.
Finally, if you need to take another measurement close together, wait 3 minutes between measurements. The wait time allows your blood vessels to recover and return to their original condition. Then follow the previous steps to ensure you are doing it properly.
Your blood pressure measurements should be recorded on a piece of paper and taken to your doctor’s appointment. Make sure you record not only the numbers but the time of day and if you recognize any specific issues – you are not feeling well or didn’t sleep well.
You may need to follow a low sodium diet after learning that you have high blood pressure in conjunction with a pre-dialysis kidney disease. Remain calm and try to minimize your changes to your diet. If you are following one of our meal plans – such as a pre-dialysis meal plan – you are already on the right track because you have a low sodium diet already planned.